CAPITAL FARM CREDIT/BCP PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Sweetwater’s Foster takes the top spot

He might be better known as one of the top receivers in the Big Country — hauling in 78 catches for more than 1,300 yards for Sweetwater’s football team in 2021. 

What some don’t realize is, Harrison Foster is also one of the area’s top basketballers, as evidenced by his taking our Capital Farm Credit-BCP Player of the Week award for the week ending Dec. 4. 

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GAME STORY: No. 1 May survives Abbott in state semifinal thriller

DUBLIN — After falling short of a championship with a 68-22 loss to Sterling City in the 2020 state title game, the May Tigers spent this year looking for redemption.

The road to a return trip to AT&T Stadium in Arlington wasn’t a cakewalk for the top-ranked Tigers, who saw playoff games against No. 2 Jonesboro and No. 4 Water Valley leading into their Class 1A Division I state semifinal matchup with third-ranked Abbott.

Having not been involved in a close game, May needed a fourth-down touchdown run from Avery Williford late in the fourth quarter to retake the lead for good as the Tigers edged the Panthers in a 50-48 thriller Saturday at Bob and Norma Cervetto Field.

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TOURNAMENT CENTRAL: North Crowley tops Eaton for Cane’s Key City Classic title, Wylie drops finale

The North Crowley Panthers completed a perfect run through the Cane’s Key City Classic on Saturday, topping Northwest Eaton 49-41 in the title game to add a championship to the third-place finish they earned in the tournament’s first year back in 2019.

That matchup closed the books on the local tournament, which also saw Lewisville the Colony top McKinney Boyd 46-41 in the third-place game, Round Rock defeat defending Classic champion Fort Worth Wyatt 72-55 in the fifth-place game and San Antonio Harlan take the consolation championship with a 64-49 win over Peaster.

Wylie, the only local team in action on the Classic’s final day, fell to Justin Northwest 50-41 in a consolation game to close out the event at 2-2. Abilene High and Cooper were slated on the bracket to meet in the championship bracket seventh-place game, but the coaches chose not to play that game since the teams have two matchups forthcoming.

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TOURNAMENT CENTRAL: Abilene High, Cooper go winless on Day 2 of Cane’s Key City Classic

The second day of the Raising Cane’s Key City Classic was a rough one for the two host schools, as Abilene High and Cooper both went 0-2 on Friday after winning on Thursday to earn a spot in the championship bracket.

Abilene High dropped its quarterfinal game to Lewisville The Colony 54-29 before falling in the fifth-place semifinals to Fort Worth Wyatt 82-41, while Cooper lost in those same rounds to McKinney Boyd (63-41) and Round Rock (55-52), respectively. The Eagles and Cougars were slated to play in the seventh-place game Saturday, but the coaches elected not to play that game since the two teams are already scheduled to play each other twice in the coming weeks.

Wylie, which dropped a play-in game to Fort Worth Nolan Catholic on Thursday to fall out of bracket play, rebounded with a pair of wins on the Classic’s second day, routing Abilene High’s JV 75-34 before topping Borger 56-46.

In action not involving Abilene teams, Northwest Eaton advanced to Saturday’s title game with a 47-44 win over The Colony. They’ll take on North Crowley, which defeated Boyd 38-37 in its semifinal to advance to the tournament championship.

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GAME STORY: Kirbo’s interception, Eakin’s big plays lead Stephenville to state semis

BEDFORD — The second-ranked Stephenville Yellow Jackets needed a late rally to beat defending state champion Argyle in last week’s regional semifinal, but with a berth in the final four on the line, coach Sterling Doty’s squad left no doubt in Friday’s Region II-4A semifinal matchup with No. 4 Melissa.

Behind quarterback Ryder Lambert and wide receiver Coy Eakin, the Yellow Jackets punched their ticket to the state semifinals with a thrilling 24-21 win over the Cardinals at Pennington Field.

Eakin had three second-half catches for 173 yards and a pair of scores to help the Yellow Jackets turn a 7-0 halftime deficit into a 24-7 lead by the fourth quarter as SHS advanced to the state semifinals for the first time in four years.

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GAME STORY: Albany pulls away from Windthorst to avenge last season’s loss

GRAHAM — As quarterback Cole Chapman continued backpedaling to take one last knee Friday night, Albany’s celebration could finally commence.  

The fourth-ranked Lions had waited a long time to get the better of defending champion Windthorst. Thanks to another quick start and a relentless defense, Albany avenged last year’s disappointment with a 28-14 victory at Newton Field. 

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GAME STORY: Hawley escapes trench war with Cisco, tops Loboes 17-14 in Big Country Classic

ABILENE — With their leading rusher out with an injury and perennial power Cisco blocking the path to their first-ever state semifinal, the Hawley Bearcats had to find a way to adapt Friday night at Shotwell Stadium. 

They responded with a gritty, come-from-behind 17-14 win that saw them erase deficits of 7-0 and 14-7, despite being shorthanded.

Diontay Ramon rushed for 120 yards and a score in a reserve role to lead Hawley (14-0), which took the lead for good with a 29-yard field goal by Kason O’Shields with 7:47 to play. 

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GAME STORY: Brock advances to state semis rout of Whitesboro

ARLINGTON — With Brock coming off an emotionally charged win over defending state champion Jim Ned last week, there was some concern in the Eagle camp about being mentally ready for Whiteboro in Thursday’s Region I-3A Division I title game. 

It took less than a quarter at Globe Life Field for Brock to end any doubts about their readiness in a lopsided 49-14 win. 

Tyler Moody threw for 222 yards and two touchdowns and Brett Tutter added 94 yards rushing and three scores in a reserve role to lead the Eagles (14-0), who advance to face either Mount Vernon (13-0) or West (13-0) in the state semifinals. 

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TOURNAMENT CENTRAL: AHS, Cooper earn spots in championship bracket at Cane’s Key City Classic

The Abilene High and Cooper boys basketball teams both opened the Raising Cane’s Key City Classic with victories on Thursday to earn spots in the tournament’s championship bracket, while Wylie dropped its opener and will be playing consolations games for the remainder of the three-day event.

Abilene High bounced back from a slow start to top Borger 58-45, and Cooper used a late bucket to escape its first-round matchup against Keller Timber Creek with a 52-51 win to ensure that both of the Classic’s host schools will be playing in the winner’s bracket quarterfinals when play resumes on Friday.

The Eagles (1-4) and Cougars (5-0) will be joined in the championship bracket by McKinney Boyd, Round Rock, North Crowley, Northwest Eaton, Fort Worth Wyatt and Lewisville The Colony, which also earned wins on Thursday. Plainview, Borger, San Antonio Harlan, Fort Worth Nolan Catholic, Justin Northwest, Timber Creek, Midland Christian and Peaster will make up the consolation bracket field.

Wylie, which fell 41-38 to Nolan in a hard-fought play-in game, was eliminated from title contention in both brackets but will close out the tournament with games against other teams eliminated from consolation title consideration.

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Big Country Preps’ Pick ‘Em Panel vs. Twitter Polls (Week 15)

Each week here at Big Country Preps, we’ll post our picks for all of that week’s 11-man games and select six-man games, in addition to the results of Evan Ren’s Twitter polls for each matchup.

For those interested in voting, polls go up on Monday night each week and close Thursday morning.

Disagree with our picks or the Twitter consensus? Let us know in the comments section below.

Continue reading “Big Country Preps’ Pick ‘Em Panel vs. Twitter Polls (Week 15)”

BCP Week 15 Playoff Forecast: Big Ev picks 92 percent over Thanksgiving. Can he keep it going?

LAST WEEK: 12-1, .923
SEASON TOTAL: 499-106, .825

Alright, we’re getting down to the nitty gritty — football in December with seven Big Country teams still fighting for a trip to Arlington. If I’m correct, we’ll have quite a few area survivors to congratulate by Sunday.

The column connected on 92 percent of its picks last week, so we’ll see if I can keep the hot streak going.

Here’s this week’s forecast: 

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TOURNAMENT CENTRAL: Local boys basketball teams gear up for Cane’s Key City Classic

The Abilene High, Cooper and Wylie boys basketball teams will all be in action this week at the Raising Cane’s Key City Classic, scheduled for Thursday through Saturday on the campuses of AHS and CHS.

This will be the second playing of the local tournament since it was resurrected in 2019. All pre-district tournaments were canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19.

Here is the bracket for the 2021 Key City Classic. Check back throughout the weekend for scores, game recaps and photos from each of the tournament’s three days.

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FEATURE: TLCA-Abilene exchange student Walliser adapting to life in West Texas

Carlos Walliser is a long ways from home, more than 5,000 miles away to be precise.

But the foreign exchange student from Madrid, Spain, has found a home at TLCA-Abilene and with his host family, Jeremy and Meagan Kirk.

Coming to Abilene has been quite the adjustment for Walliser, who moved from a city with 3.4 million residents to one with 124,710 according to the 2020 census.

Some of the biggest adjustments that Walliser has had to make are ones that many in the area take for granted.

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FEATURE: With the flick of a switch, Brock’s Mathews can go from polite to flat-out scary

BROCK — By all accounts, Brock senior defensive end Kadyn Mathews is a quiet, humble sort — a well-behaved, solid student who is considerate, helpful, hard-working and everything else one might associate with a good kid. 

That is, until he puts the pads on. 

At that point, Mathews is transformed into something very unpleasant — a 6-foot-3, 230-pound wrecking ball that has been disrupting offenses throughout Brock’s 13-0 start. This, despite consistently drawing double teams and having offenses directing plays away from him.

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GAME STORY: Cooper boys ‘find a way’ against No. 3 Estacado, rally for 57-53 win

On the back of each member of the Cooper boys basketball team’s jersey, you’ll find a simple phrase: “Find a way.”

That rallying cry proved more than a trite directive Tuesday, when the Cougars rallied for an unlikely 57-53 victory over Class 4A No. 3 Lubbock Estacado in a nondistrict matchup at Cougar Gym.

Trailing 51-41 with less than 4½ minutes remaining in the game and struggling to handle the Matadors intense pressure defense, the Coogs found a way — first to take better care of the basketball and then to put it through the net enough to stun their talented visitors.

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GAME STORY: Cooper girls pull away from crosstown rival Abilene High for 53-39 victory

The Cooper girls basketball team overcame an early challenge from a hot-shooting Abilene High squad Tuesday to earn a 53-39 win over its crosstown rival at Cougar Gym.

The Lady Cougars trailed on three occasions in the first quarter as the Lady Eagles knocked down three of their eight 3-pointers in the opening period. But coach Arsenio Geter’s squad closed the first half on a 15-7 run to go to halftime with a seven-point lead and held off one last push by AHS in the third quarter before finally putting the Lady Eagles away in the fourth.

Guards Karrigan Parrott and Kyla Speights fueled the effort for the Lady Coogs, scoring 16 and 13 points, respectively, to put their team back above .500 at 5-4.

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CAPITAL FARM CREDIT/BCP PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Stephenville linebacker Young takes award once again

It’s not easy for defensive players to wrestle the spotlight away from those on offense. It’s just the nature of things. 

But in the case of Stephenville linebacker Reese Young, he’s beginning to make a habit of it. 

Young, who charted 22 tackles (14 solos) in SHS’ 21-17 regional semifinal win over Argyle last week is our Capital Farm Credit/BCP Player of the Week for a second time this year. 

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Class 2A regional semifinal report: Albany, Cisco, Hawley advance; Santo sees season end

DIVISION II

Albany 34, Muenster 21 Cole Chapman threw for 176 yards and two scores and Jaheim Newton rushed for 162 yards and another TD to lift Albany (12-0) over previously unbeaten Muenster.

The Lions raced out to a 28-0 halftime lead and held off a late Muenster rally to get the win. 

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GAME STORY: Santo falls to Windthorst, 40-7

rioGRAHAM — When Santo’s option offense gets rolling, it puts opponents on edge and drains precious minutes off the clock.  

But the Wildcats couldn’t gain any traction Friday afternoon against No. 3 Windthorst’s dominant front. 

That translated into a lot of Santo punts and short fields for the Trojans, who kept their title defense hopes alive with a 40-7 victory at Newton Field. 

Windthorst (12-1) advances to play Albany next week for the Region II-2A Division II title, while Santo ends one of its best seasons in school history at 11-2. 

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GAME STORY: Hawley wins physical battle with Coleman

With over 8,000 fans in attendance, the Region I-2A Division I semifinal between Hawley and Coleman lived up to the expectation of a street fight and the associated hype as a matchup of unbeaten teams.

Austin Cumpton ran for 120 yards and two touchdowns, including one on which he flipped over the pile and landed on his head, to fuel the Bearcats to a 21-7 win Friday night at Wylie’s Hugh Sandifer Stadium.

Hawley coach Mitch Ables knew his squad was going to be in for a fight and was looking forward to watching the game film to see how hard both defenses were hitting.

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GAME STORY: Stephenville overcomes slow start to edge Argyle, advances to region title game

MANSFIELD — During its 12-0 run to the Region II-4A semifinals, the Stephenville football team didn’t have to play from behind very often.

But facing a tough Argyle squad Friday at Vernon Newsom Stadium, the Yellow Jackets proved they’re more than capable of rallying if need be.

Trailing 14-0 less than 10 minutes into the game and 17-14 midway through the fourth quarter, SHS came from behind on a pair of occasions to score a 21-17 win over the Eagles and earn a date with top-ranked Melissa in the Region I-4A championship game next week.

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Class 4A region semifinal report: Celina ends Snyder’s surprising run; Stephenville escapes Argyle

DIVISION II

Celina 46, Snyder 6 The Bobcats outgained the Tigers 442-118, building a 39-0 lead by halftime on their way to a dominating victory.

Celina (11-1) hurt Snyder for 268 yards on the ground, getting 123 yards and one touchdown from Gabe Gayton and 96 yards and two scores from Troy Peterson. Noah Bentley, meanwhile, had an efficient day passing the ball, going 9 for 16 for 174 yards with TD passes to Collin Urich, Brady Cunningham and Jacob Vincent.

Snyder was limited to just 55 yards rushing on 30 carries, getting 25 yards from Bryce Ford and 24 from Dom Dominguez. Hunter Stewart threw for 63 yards on 7-of-21 passing but was intercepted three times.

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GAME STORY: Brock dominates Jim Ned to advance to Region I-3A title game

BROWNWOOD — To whatever degree Brock may have wished to atone for last year’s regional semifinal loss to Jim Ned, the Eagles found a way to erase all debts on Friday with a stunning 70-25 romp over the defending state 3A DI champions at Gordon Wood Stadium. 

Kutter Wilson rushed for 295 yards and five touchdowns and Tyler Moody threw for 229 yards and four more scores to lift Brock (13-0), which advances to face Whitesboro in the Region I-3A title game next week. 

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Big Country Preps’ Pick ‘Em Panel vs. Twitter Polls (Week 14)

Each week here at Big Country Preps, we’ll post our picks for all of that week’s 11-man games and select six-man games, in addition to the results of Evan Ren’s Twitter polls for each matchup.

For those interested in voting, polls go up on Monday night each week and close Thursday morning.

Disagree with our picks or the Twitter consensus? Let us know in the comments section below.

Continue reading “Big Country Preps’ Pick ‘Em Panel vs. Twitter Polls (Week 14)”

EVAN REN’S WEEK 14 PLAYOFF FORECAST: 16 area teams still battling for regional titles

LAST WEEK: 17-4, .809
SEASON TOTAL: 487-105, .823

Some areas have quantity. Others have quality. The Big Country has both — at least, this year it does. 

Entering Week 14 there are no fewer than 16 area teams with a shot at reaching December. And with six of them paired off against each other, the Big Country is guaranteed to have at least three survivors a week from now. 

I have a strong feeling we’re going to see more area survivors than that. But we will have some casualties this time around. There’s no avoiding it with the level of competition our teams are facing. 

With 11-man teams reaching the regional semifinal round and six-man teams playing for regional titles, there are nothing but monsters remaining to block the path to Arlington. 

Who will make it through? 

Here’s this week’s forecast: 

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CAPITAL FARM CREDIT/BCP PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Dublin’s Teten earns honor with historic effort

With a huge passing game in Dublin’s 41-35 area-round win over Palmer, junior Chris Teten put up numbers worthy of our Capital Farm Credit/Big Country Preps Player of the Week award.

But it’s only once you grasp the historical significance of the Lions’ win over the Bulldogs on Friday that you gain a full appreciation for the junior’s performance.

In hitting 19 of 26 passes for 406 yards and six touchdowns — all of which were needed to escape Joshua’s Owl Stadium with a victory — Teten was objectively excellent behind center for the Lions. Now for the kicker: the win over Palmer marked the first area-round victory in the history of the Dublin program, which is significant considering the school has been playing football for more than a century.

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TOURNAMENT RECAP: Jim Ned girls blaze through Pug Parris Classic to remain unbeaten

The Jim Ned girls basketball team topped El Paso Mountain View 58-42 on Saturday at McMurry University’s Kimbrel Arena to complete a perfect run through the inaugural Pug Parris Classic and claim the tournament championship.

The No. 13 Lady Indians, who earned their spot in the title game with impressive wins over El Paso Ysleta (70-26), Lubbock Trinity Christian (69-32) and Wylie (47-36), raced out to a 17-8 first-quarter lead on Mountain View and were never threatened after in improving to 7-0 on the season.

Jim Ned’s run to the title completed a successful first run for the Pug Parris Classic, which was started by McMurry this year when the Hardin-Simmons University-hosted Polk-Key City Classic — believed to be the longest-running girls basketball tournament in the state — was not resumed.

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